Higham Parish Council

Minutes of the July 2007 Parish Council Meeting

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Minutes of the Parish Council Meeting, held at St. John’s Church Hall, Hermitage Road, on Monday, 2nd July 2007 at 7.30 p.m.

Present: Cllr. Mrs J.M.Papadopulos (Chairman)
County Councillor:- Cllr. M. Snelling.
Borough Councillor:- Cllr. B. Sweetland.
Councillors:- J.A.Grey, M.L.James, Mrs P. Oakeshott (also Borough), L.M. Pearton, Mrs M. Scott, B.Sutherland, S.N.Walton, Mrs A. Waugh  and S. Wright.
In attendance: 8 Parishioners.
Kent Community Warden Steve Gray.
Apologies for absence: Cllr. Howard. P.C. Steve Cole. Dougall Goring.

The Chairman accepted apologies for absence.
There were no alterations to the Register of Members Interests.

The Minutes of the Annual Parish Council Meeting followed by a Parish Council Meeting, held on Monday, 14th May 2007, were confirmed and signed.

Matters arising from the Minutes.
Following an update of actions from the last Minutes, the Clerk reported that:-
a. P. 835 Parish. Steve Gray had reported that if there was a crossover to the front of a property a parked vehicle could not be obstructed. If there was no crossover this did not apply.
b. Web Site report. Over the past year there had been some 26,515 hits to the web site with 3718 visitors recorded in June (the highest monthly total ever).
c. Arriva Buses – provision of commuter shuttle service. Arriva Buses had expressed concern that the route would be cross boundary, involving both KCC and Medway Councils, and feared that it would not be commercially viable. As it could not consider this on its own it suggested speaking to Geoff Waters of Medway Council to see if any interest was forthcoming. It was essential to find out if, and where the demand would be coming from, and between which hours, as well as the ability to deploy the bus somewhere else the minute the service had finished. Cllr. James agreed to make contact with Medway Council to discuss this matter further.

Parishioners’ Matters.
Miss Hornby, of Villa Road, reported problems with speeding traffic to Villa Road. The latest incident had involved a Range Rover which had demolished a front garden wall and narrowly missed crashing into the front room of a property opposite. She had written to Mr Bateman enclosing photographs of the damage but had received no reply. The Chairman reminded those present that the introduction of a traffic management scheme had been one of the matters discussed at the Site Meeting which Mr Wybraniec, of Kent Highways, had attended. It was agreed to invite Mr Wybraniec to attend the next Meeting in September to discuss this incident and what measures could be taken to prevent speeding in Villa Road.
Clive Stanley, of Oak Drive, reported that during resurfacing works in School Lane the “slow” sign in white paint had not been reinstated although it was clearly marked on the kerb.
Kay Pinder, of Chalk Road, enquired if local residents should attend the forthcoming informal hearing for the Chalk Road appeals at the Civic Centre on 31/7. Both Cllrs. Oakeshott and Waugh encouraged local residents to attend as the Inspector took note of the number of attendees present on the day.
Amanda Mendzil, of Telegraph Hill, reported that she was still in contact with the railway regarding the Higham Station car park. She understood that improvements to the parking facilities would be made in the near future and it would become fee paying during 2008. She agreed to keep the Parish Council informed of developments.

Tour de France 2007.
The Clerk reported that she had attended a Meeting with the Members of the Temple School Steel Band the previous week. In spite of the road closures taking effect from 7.00 a.m. the boys were still keen to perform and she had written to the Sir John Falstaff Public House to see if their vehicles could be parked in the car park., although it was understood that the pub had arranged to hold a bar-b-que. Folding tables from the church hall would be available for the local associations who had agreed to provide stalls and these would be positioned on the grass verge. Clive Stanley would be taking photographs for the website and Members agreed to ask George Chandler to produce a 30 photo album for the village archives. Steve Gray would be on duty from 8.00 a.m. until 1.00 pm. on the day.

To finalise arrangements for the 2007 Higham Gardens for Pleasure Competition.
Members signed the list of roads circulated by the Chairman, who urged them to let her have the short lists as soon as possible to pass to Morton Grey.

Higham Youth Club.
Steve Gray reported that the Youth Club had opened the previous week and the 20 youngsters and 7 volunteers, who had attended, had enjoyed an inflatable assault course. He hoped to open for the next four weeks when the club would adjourn until September. The Chairman thanked Steve Gray for all his help in running the club in the interim period. The Parish Council sub-committee would be meeting to discuss the applicant for the position of Youth Leader and the way forward. Cllr. Sutherland agreed to send a notification to the Primary school that all the Year 6 children would be eligible to join the club.

To formally adopt the Revised Code of Conduct.
Copies of the Revised Code of Conduct had been circulated to Members before the Meeting.
It was resolved that:- “The Model Code of Conduct, including paragraph 12 (2) be adopted”, this being proposed by Cllr. Pearton, seconded by Cllr. Oakeshott and agreed by all Members.

Provision of play equipment to Higham Recreation Ground.
Following the receipt of letters of complaint from Parishioners regarding the removal of both the slide unit and the swings, due to vandalism, the Chairman had sourced a slide which was currently surplus to requirements. The cost of the slide was £800 and the necessary safety surfacing for this unit would cost £2540, and that, under the multi-swing unit, would cost £2680 (rubber surfacing with timber edging). If the surfacing was replaced by Astroturf (40mm of sand and rubber) the costs would be £2160 for the slide area and £1580 for the swings. Members were divided as to whether it was worth replacing this equipment at the present time in case it was damaged again. The Clerk reminded Members that the slide unit was covered by insurance but that the insurers would need to endorse any quotations before work commenced. The Playground Inspection Officer employed by the Borough Council would also need to be consulted to check that any new equipment met current safety regulations. Cllr. Snelling suggested applying for funding through the County Council and Cllr Sweetland agreed to enquire through the Borough Council Funding Officer. Cllr. Grey suggested that the hedge to the Recreation Ground (fronting School Lane) should either be cut lower or removed to give a clear view of the play equipment and the Clerk agreed to speak with the Borough Council accordingly.

Councillors’ Matters.
Cllr. Snelling reported that the results of the recent spending review had indicated how important the new closer working arrangements between the County Council and Gravesham Borough Council would be. Cllr. Snelling confirmed that he would be consulting with the Chairs of the Gravesham Rural Parishes to see if they would prefer to have a more formal approach to future Meetings, with an elected Member from Gravesham Council chairing the Meeting and with Ward Members in attendance.

Cllr. Sweetland reported that the Borough Council would be undertaking a review of parking within Gravesham. Improvements would be made to the Christmas lighting within the Town Centre this year and all lights would be LED to help the environment. A new alcohol exclusion zone had been formed within the town centre. In answer to a question from Cllr. Sutherland as to whether this might be extended to the rural areas, Cllr. Sweetland agreed to provide further details of the initiative.

Cllr. Waugh drew Members’ attention to a planned clean-up operation at the bay at Higham Bight on the River Thames between Gravesend and Cliffe on Saturday 7/7, organized jointly by the RSPB and Thames 21. Transport would be provided from Cliffe and she urged those present to attend. The information had already been placed on the website.
Cllr. Grey reported that following carriageway works to the bottom of School Lane in conjunction with the Rural Housing scheme, the double yellow line now required reinstatement. He reported evidence of vehicles from the Canal Road site operating at weekends. The replacement School Lane name sign at the end of Lake Drive required moving slightly so that it could be read from over the railway bridge.
Cllr. Sutherland reported problems with take-away food containers being thrown into a front garden in Hermitage Road from a car. The footpath outside Merston Court in Hermitage Road still remained in a slippery state in spite of some works already having been carried out, and that to Brice Road was breaking up.
Cllr. Pearton reported complaints that tree outside Alexander Cottages was cutting out the light and the Clerk agreed to refer the matter to Mrs Jenny Wallace. He also reported that several of the street lights to Chalk Road had been broken by high lorries using the road. The “no dogs allowed” sign for Higham Recreation Ground needed vegetation clearing from around it. The Clerk agreed to ask the Borough Council regarding current legislation relating to by laws as the Recreation Ground was owned by St. John’s College Cambridge.
Cllr. Walton reported that bushes by the footpath needed to be cut back near to the School.
Cllr. Scott reported that HiARA wanted to provide a better sound system for the Memorial Hall for use by their Members, and enquired if any grant aid might be forthcoming.
Cllr. Oakeshott reported that she had applied for bollards to the pavement outside the old Institute House at the corner of Norah Lane to solve parking problems, and these were also being investigated by the Borough Council for Lillechurch Cottages.
On behalf of Cllr. Howard, the Clerk reported that the road name sign for Taylors Lane had been vandalised and required replacement.


a. Planning.
Plans were available for the following planning applications which had been received
and reviewed by the Planning Committee:-

Appln. no. 20070419 5, Forge Lane,
Erection of single storey rear extension to form dining room/living room, kitchen, utility room and ensuite bathroom/wc.
Appln. no. 20070462 The Gardeners Arms PH, 2, Forge Lane.
Installation of concertina style door to replace existing French doors and window and erection of an open canopy, all on eastern elevation.
Appln. no. 20070446 The Granary, Little Hermitage Farm, Gravesend Road.
Excavation of a basement at the rear.
Appln. no. 20070395 10, School Lane.
Retention of the extraction duct on the roof at the rear and retention of the roller shutter blinds.
Appln. no. 20070517 Upshire Studios, 3, Hermitage Road.
Change of use of bedsitting room into an office.
Appln. no. 20070477 Syringa, Gravesend Road.
Erection of single storey rear and side extensions to form a conservatory, utility room and bathroom.

The Clerk presented the quarterly financial statement for the period 1/4/07 to 30/6/07. She asked for approval for the items shown on the agenda plus the sum of £127.83 to Southern Water for the allotments water bill, this being proposed by Cllr. James, seconded by Cllr. Wright and agreed by all Members.

Expenses – use of room as office (1/4/07 – 30/6/07) 227.50
Higham with Merston PCC (hall hire) 10.00
Clive Stanley (webmaster services 24/3/07 – 21/6/07 – new rate) 210.00
Gravesham Borough Council (printing) 12.06
Gravesham Borough Council (printing) 7.36
Gravesham Borough Council (printing) 2.46
The Millbrook Garden Company (Garden Gift tokens) 60.00

The notes of a Sub Committee meeting held on 11/6/07 to discuss the pay and conditions of the Clerk were distributed to all Members prior to the Meeting. Members unanimously agreed the recommendations of the Sub Committee that the Clerk’s salary should be increased w.e.f. 1/4/07 to £7575.96 per annum (SCP 20) based on 70 hours per month, in line with the guidelines provided by both NALC and KAPC, with the annual expenses for the use of a room as an office remaining unchanged at £910.

The following proposal was recorded in the Minutes:-
“This Council in accordance with its powers under Sections 137 and 139 of the Local Government Act 1972, should incur an expenditure of £60 for garden gift tokens from the Millbrook Garden Company, which is in the opinion of the Council in the interests of the area or its inhabitants”.

The correspondence folder had been available for perusal by all Members from 7.00 p.m. on that evening, but the Clerk drew Members’ attention to the following item:-
1. Members gave approval for the use of the Recreation Ground for the Borough Council Play in the Park summer activity programme

To note the date of the next Parish Council Meeting.
This was given as being Monday, 10th September 2007 at 7.30 p.m.

Any Other Business.
None was brought to the notice of the Meeting.

There being no other business, the Meeting closed at 10.07 p.m.



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